Creators Join SMC Staff to Pick the Best Comics of 2014
Dec 15, 2014 by     1 Comment     Posted In: Reviews

2014 was a great year for comics and it would be a shame if we didn’t give it a proper send off by highlighting the best. To give us a hand, we’ve invited our comic making friends to give their picks as well. And, let’s face it, you’d rather hear from them anyways, right? Scroll on down to see what single issues get the nod from industry pros and fans alike! Think we overlooked something great? Give it a shout in the comments!

Ricardo Mo – Writer of Propeller

Pick: Daredevil #36 – Drawn by Chris Samnee and written by Mark Waid

Daredevil #36My comic book reading habits skew heavily toward Creator-Owned. In fact, I read a grand total of ONE Big Two superhero book. But when it came time to choose a favourite issue of the year, there was no question which book and which issue stood out the most.

Daredevil #36 gives us Chris Samnee, arguably the best artist working in superhero comics right now, being supported flawlessly by Javier Rodriguez and Joe Caramagna on colours and letters. And then there’s Mark Waid, a writer who understands exactly what is needed from a book like this, so much so that it provides a template for all superhero books.

This isn’t drop-in-the-generic-hero time, this is a story that embraces what makes its star unique. It is set almost entirely in a courtroom, after all. There’s a stand-out moment that hints at a larger universe, but it shows restraint and care. And in this, the 36th issue of an ongoing, there is still an in-story opportunity for a recap of Daredevil’s origin. This is a deftly-crafted issue that is equally effective either as a stand-alone or as the satisfying close to the Serpent Society arc (and an entire era). Most importantly, the issue is a visual treat and an absolute joy to read and re-read.

Follow Ricardo on Twitter: @RicardoMoTron

Leo Johnson – writer/editor and interviewer

Southern Bastards #4Pick: Southern Bastards #4 – Drawn by Jason Latour and written by Jason Aaron

If you caught my review of the first issue, you know Southern Bastards holds a special place in my heart as someone from a small Alabama town. It only helps that the Jasons are making one of the better comics on the stands. This issue in particular stands out because it takes the protagonist of the first arc, Earl Tubb, and then completely changes the story with what they do to him. This issue reminds us that the true focus of the story was right there in the title all along and leaves the reader with a devastating ending.

Follow Leo on Twitter: @LFLJ

Fabian Rangel, Jr. – Writer of Doc Unknown

Pick: B.P.R.D. #124 – Drawn by Tyler Crook and written by John Arcudi

This issue should be used to teach writers how to nail a one and done type story. We see “Hell on Earth” from the perspective of an average guy working in a coffee shop, instead of the usual cast of agents. John Arcudi (a master of character development and dialogue) and Tyler Crook (nailing facial emotion as well as crazy monster stuff) play to their strengths on this one, and the result is a shining example of what makes B.P.R.D. the best series on the shelves. It’ll break your heart! (In a good way)

Follow Fabian on Twitter: @FabianRangelJr, or Facebook

Brian Winkeler – Writer of Knuckleheads

Pick: God Hates Astronauts #2 – Written and drawn by Ryan Browne

I hate Ryan Browne so damn much.

It’s bad enough he’s an incredible writer whose stuff is way funnier than mine. But that a-hole God Hates Astronauts #2can draw too. Really really good. Good enough even to get hired to draw other writers’ stuff.
Lucky for us he’s chosen to focus on writing and drawing GOD HATES ASTRONAUTS on a monthly basis. And it is SO CRAZY.
My pal Jordan Boyd is having a ball coloring the series, and as we’ve been doing co-signings to promote KNUCKLEHEADS: FIST CONTACT, I’ve been pushing GHA on everyone who comes by and flips through an issue. I don’t even try to describe it. Why try? It exists beyond description. It’s just pure, unbridled batshit joy.
I’ve chosen #2 as my favorite issue of 2014 for one big reason – a fake Hostess Fruit Pies-esque ad (drawn by Brad McGinty) for MINTERNETS, a candy that gives you “the power to surf the internet with your mind!” Cast member ‘Gnarled Winslow’ gives the candy to two teens who immediately use it to surf for porn. Hilarity and concussions ensue. Of the many laughs the issue squeezed out of my guts, that page produced the hardiest ones.
There’s also a running gag in the quotes on the back cover in which Maryweather T. Snopple, “Heir to the Snopple Beverage Fortune,” desperately begs for someone to invest in his failing company. It has nothing at all to do with the rest of the issue. It’s just funny. Really really funny.
So yeah. God Hates Astronauts #2 by Ryan Browne. Eff that guy.
-Follow Brian on Twitter: @brianwinkeler

Chip Reece – Writer of Metaphase and Admin

Usagi Yojimbo Color SpecialPick: Usagi Yojimbo Color Special: The Artist – Written and drawn by Stan Sakai

I’ve been on a huge Usagi kick, and this one-shot collection of shorts is completely to blame. It’s a perfect little bundle that packs every bit of what makes Sakai’s samurai bunny so great. There’s sword fighting action, a hint of the supernatural, a pinch of humor, all smothered in thought provoking sauce. If you haven’t tried Usagi Yojimbo (may the comic gods not strike you down), this a nice place to start.

-Follow Chip on Twitter: @ChipReece

Jordan Kroeger – Artist/Writer of Wolf and Man, currently working on Serpen-Teen

Pick: The Multiversity: Pax Americana #1 – Drawn by Frank Quitely and written by Grant Morrison

This has to be one of my most enjoyable reading experiences in recent memory. It’s filled with so many innovative story-telling devices, and it dares you to read and interact with the story anyway you desire. Every page by Quitely and Fairbairn (colors) is drool-worthy. Amazing stuff.

-Follow Jordan on Twitter: @jkroeg

Mel Lang – reviewer

Pick: Rocket Raccoon #1 – Written and drawn by Skottie Young

This year’s top hit at the box office was a bro-mance between a raccoon and a tree. Yup, you read that correctly. So naturally, when Rocket got his own ongoing, I was on board. In the premiere issue, Rocket rescues a princess, and proceeds to take her on a date to a professional wrestling match (starring Groot, of course). Getting caught on the Kiss Cam isn’t good publicity, when you’re a wanted criminal. After a brief assist from Starlord, Rocket is on the run. Rocket then gains information that there may be more raccoon-like creatures similar to himself. The last few pages of the issue reveal that Rocket’s date with the princess may not have gone as well as he hoped. The princess has assembled Rocket’s own League of Evil Exes, and these ladies are out for blood. Skottie Young has been a favorite of mine for quite a while now (I’m one of those suckers who hunts down all of his variant covers). It pleases me to no end that his writing is just as much fun as his artwork. In summary: princesses, pro-wrestling, spaceships, crazy exes, more Rockets, and “I am Groot.” Yes, Skottie Young wins the vote for favorite issue of the year in my galaxy.

Glenn Matchett – Writer of Living With Death (Kickstarting in February 2015) and Sparks

Nailbiter #1Pick: Nailbiter #1 – Drawn by Mike Henderson and written by Josh Williamson

It’s been a long time since I read the first issue of a comic and before I even was halfway through I was all in. Due to the success of fellow Image title, The Walking Dead, there are a lot of horror books out there.  What Nailbiter did in the first issue was present interesting characters, an interesting premise, several mysteries and a great initial hook. It was simply brilliant and deserves everyone’s attention, it could be the best issue 1 I’ve read in years and I can’t wait to be on it for the rest of the ride.

-Follow Glenn on Twitter: @glenn_matchett

Jason Martin – writer

Pick: The Multiversity: Pax Americana #1 – Drawn by Frank Quitely and written by Grant Morrison

Until Pax Americana came out, Multiversity, for me, had been enjoyable, but not a story I would call great. The stories have been intriguing, but the whole event has had a heady feel that some may not appreciate, as is the case with a Grant Morrison penned story. The construction of the issue is, quite simply, fantastic. From Quitely’s diagramming to Morrison’s scripting, the issue was flawless from a technical regard. It even included some pretty innovative story telling techniques that you don’t see very often. This issue will seem reminiscent of Watchmen, and rightly so. That leads me to my absolute favorite part of the issues, these are the characters Alan Moore would have used in Watchmen. Moore wanted to use the characters DC acquired from Charlton, but after the story, the characters would’ve been pretty much unusable by the DCU proper so he had to create analogous characters instead. It’s just pretty cool to finally see the original idea in print and that along with the fantastic writing and plotting makes this my choice for best comic of 2014.

Wes Locher – Writer of Unit 44, Undoubtables and Chambers

Loki: Ragnarok and RollPick: Loki: Ragnarok and Roll #1 – Drawn by Jerry Gaylord and written by Eric M. Esquivel

I careth not about the mythology of Asgard and its inhabitants…well, that’s how I felt until Eric Esquivel and Jerry Gaylord put a humorous spin on the whole thing. Loki is banished to Earth and starts a rock band for the purposes of world domination. Yeah, you read that right. Published by BOOM! in February, the first issue gave me a protagonist I loved to hate and a book packed with action, hilarious dialogue, pop culture references and some super slick art. Through this release Esquivel solidified himself as one of the most unique and entertaining voices in the comics community. Anytime you throw a party in Odin’s royal banquet hall that features Thor, Baron Samedi, Cthulhu and the Flying Spaghetti Monster, you’re in for a good time. Fun, fresh, slick and witty, this was the comic I always wanted, but never knew I wanted. I wish I could read it again for the first time. Will someone please invent time travel, already?

-Follow Wes on Twitter: @weslocher

Josh Flynn – Publisher/Editor of Two Clones Magazine, StashMyComics Reviewer

Pick: Saga #19 – Drawn by Fiona Staples and written by Brian K. Vaughan

There’s no need to add to the superlatives already collected by Brian K. Vaughan’s and Fiona Staples’ Saga. Let’s just say in 2014 the series remained one of the best comics. Saga started a brand new chapter in its story, taking the absurdity that won fans over—Lying Cat, The Stalk, a ghost whose entrails hang out of her torso—to new worlds and new situations. But it’s just not the oddities populating Saga’s universe that won fans. It’s the fact the characters are very real, so much more human than what many other comics can provide.

While issue 19 opened the new chapter, it also took the story to the realm of the domestic. Really? We went from space saga with bounty hunters to raising kids and working a job? Yep. And it was awesome (and complete with what appears to be a commentary from Vaughan about the absurdity of bringing in every day domestic issues into comics via Alana’s work on an Open Circuit superhero soap opera).

But what makes Saga #19 so special—and my favorite comic of the year—is the ending. Saga didn’t need months of advertising a beloved character’s death to make readers feel shock and sadness. Vaughan did it with 10 words. And those ten words left Saga fans feeling emotions no comic has been able to trigger in a very long time.

Follow Josh on Twitter: @JoshFlynn

James Maddox – Writer/Creator of The Dead, Clown, and The Horror Show

Pick: CMYK Quarterly: Magenta – Art and writing by various creators

There have been a TON of great comics released in 2014, but I’d like to take a moment to shout CMYK Magentasomething a little different: ‘All hail the return of the awesome short story!’
Lately, it seems that short comic zines and anthologies have come back into style, but few have brought forward better stories than Vertigo’s quarterly CMYK. Ask any writer worth his/her salt, coming up with a good short story that delivers a satisfying beginning, middle and end is a daunting task. Somehow, Vertigo has brought together a great amount of talented writers who deliver some rocking stories, and so far, their “Magenta” release has been my favorite. In it, you’ll find some killer tales from writers like Ryan K. Lindsay, Jody Houser and Michael Moreci, and some fantastic art to add extra punch to the plots.
One of the major factors that keeps drawing me back to Vertigo is their diversity in regard to genre. Horror, Sci-Fi, Fantasy, Crime: If it makes for a good tale, Vertigo isn’t afraid to tackle it, and it seems they’ve applied this approach to their quarterly, as well.
By not walling themselves into a specific genre, the magazine allows itself, its creators, and its editors to follow what interests them. And what interests them, interests me. I say keep it coming and I’ll keep reading, and so should you!
-Follow James on Twitter: @jamescmaddox

Jason Chartrand – StashMyComics Admin

Pick: Zero #8 – Drawn by Jorge Coelho and written by Ales Kot

Zero #8For 2014, I have chosen Image Comics’ Zero Chapter 8, “Shame as the inciting factor of violence,” as my favourite single issue. We come to this issue knowing that Agent Zero has assassinated his handler, Zizek, in Mexico after learning that Zizek has arranged for the assassination of his own lover and supervisor, Director Cooke. Through the awesome storytelling of Kot, we see events unfold — Zero racing from Juarez Mexico to the UK, Cooke dealing with her assassins and Zero ultimately succeeding in saving Cooke’s life — with a smattering of dialog. I love this issue for the way it exploits, as Scott McLeod might put it, “the magic that happens in the gutters.” Top all this off with Jordie Bellaire’s superlative colors, and you have one of the best issues from the past year.

-Follow Jason on Twitter: @jasonium

Tony Dillard – StashMyComics Admin

Bonus GN Pick: Black Canary/Zatanna: Bloodspell – Drawn by Joe Quinones and written by Paul Dini

Written by Paul Dini, the creative force behind Batman: The Animated Series amongst others, this graphic novel pits Black Canary and Zatanna in a ‘Thelma and Louise’ type adventure across the United States. The adventure starts in Las Vegas where a year prior, Black Canary infiltrated a gang bent on robbing a casino. Just before the ring leader dies, she puts a curse on her former minions and the undercover heroine. A year’s past and the curse is coming to pass with the former villains succumbing in supernaturally weird ways. Desperate to prevent herself from being next on this list, Canary seeks out her JLA teammate Zatanna to find a cure for the uncommon curse. Bloodspell was the one graphic novel I read over the past year in which I thought to myself, that this would make a great series in DC’s New 52. It’s got action, adventure, the supernatural, and just a little bit of sex appeal.


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